As schools face tighter budgets and less funding, many of them cut music, art, and physical education classes. Sadly, students suffer because these classes offer benefits beyond learning how to sing, draw, and play sports. Music especially supports students’ literacy skills, and parents and educators should make sure students have an opportunity to make music each day.
1. Music Enhances Literacy-Related Language Skills
Studies show that the more children engage in music practice, the more their literacy-related language skills improve. Specifically, research shows that music training positively impacts phonological awareness skills and rhyming skills. According to Susan Hallam of the Institute of Education at the University of London, one reason that music enhances literacy skills is that “speech and music have a number of shared processing systems. Musical experiences which enhance processing can therefore impact on the perception of language which in turn impacts on learning to read…. Eight-year-old children with just eight weeks of musical training showed improvement in perceptual cognition compared with controls.”
Additionally, music becomes a critical component of children’s ability to develop phonological awareness, which significantly contributes to their ability to learn to read successfully. Hallam also points out that learning to play an instrument enhances kids’ abilities to remember words; in fact, “musically trained participants remembered 17% more verbal information than those without musical training.” That’s why kids who struggle with reading comprehension perform better after being trained in rhythmical performance.
Quality literacy programs emphasize the development of auditory processes, which music programs also stress. The auditory elements of literacy include phoneme awareness, distinguishing auditory elements, and speech signals, among others. Kids with phoneme awareness understand how sounds form words and are more successful in making sense of the sounds they hear.
Musically, they become aware of pitches and how they form musical lines. Distinguishing auditory elements is a critical component of effective communication because it helps use context to distinguish between homophones during conversations. Overall, speech signals and auditory signals help kids gain meaning from verbal communication and music.
2. Choosing the Right Instrument for Your Child
Because music enhances literacy skills, parents should encourage kids to learn to play an instrument at an early age. But, the key is to help your children find the right instrument so they develop a love of music rather than being forced to play a particular instrument. In his PBS article, the Dean of the University of Southern California Thornton School of Music, Dr. Robert Cutietta, reminds parents to consider a child’s age when choosing an instrument. Kids younger than six do better with the piano and violin because these instruments build a musical foundation that can lead to other instruments at later ages.
As kids age and gain more physical strength, they can play brass instruments, woodwinds, and larger string instruments. Younger kids often do well with a clarinet because it is a smaller instrument that is more manageable for them, while older kids often enjoy playing the saxophone.
If your school is suffering a budget crisis, or if you simply want your children to be able to practice more often to enhance their literacy skills, consider purchasing a clarinet or saxophone. Keep in mind that achieving success with a clarinet or saxophone requires choosing the right mouthpiece. The wrong mouthpiece affects your child’s ability to produce quality sound or produce a sound at all. For more information, check out the buying guide from Music & Arts.
3. How to Interest Your Kids in Playing an Instrument
But, playing an instrument only enhances your kids’ literacy skills when they actually pick up their instrument and practice and play it. Once you’ve chosen the best instrument for him, encourage him to practice and play it. You may ask to hear what he’s learning, ask him to teach you how to play, or simply set aside time for him to play for you and then praise him. It’s also helpful to hire a music teacher who will instruct your child privately and inspire him to play often.
Playing an instrument is a key to developing literacy skills. Help your children choose the right one and then keep them interested in playing it to improve their literacy and musical abilities. Purchase an instrument and hire a music teacher to enhance their skills even more.
By Jenny Wise, SpecialHomeEducator.com
Keeping kids away from their computer and tablet screens can be a challenge, especially during the coldest months in winter. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing. There are plenty of online options that can help your kids learn while they are having fun.
Don’t just let kids pick out the most popular games to play (well, they can play those, too). Try to insert learning time into the games they play, so they’ll at least get some benefit to their computer play time.
Here are some ways to enjoy the time your kids spend in front of the screen:
● Try real estate lesson plans. Never thought of that before? Real estate is a complex field that requires skills in math, science, English, social studies and home economics. By incorporating real estate-based lessons into your curriculum, you can help students gain valuable skills in practical math application, presentation giving, forming a persuasive argument, earth science and so much more.
● Try incorporating earth science into your kids’ play. Kids are constantly learning about the
world around them, and games that target the Earth’s wonders will keep them entertained for hours.
● Try free games and apps. There are tons of games online that kids can play and learn, from math to science to English and more. Teachers use computer games to teach children all the time. Parents just need to learn where to find these games. And many of them are free.
● Try a MOOC. Older kids can learn so much from MOOCs, Massive Open Online Courses. MOOCS are college classes that are made available for free to the public. You can’t get credit for them, but you and your kids can learn almost anything. Plus, it can help prepare your child for what to expect in college.
● Learn a language. There are so many ways to learn a language these days that it’s almost silly not to. There are many apps where you can learn languages for free. Studies have shown that learning a foreign language helps expand your mind and can even ward off dementia. You and your child can learn a language together, then plan a big trip where you’ll put your new language skills to use.
● Coding fun. Computer coding is a skill that all modern kids should learn. Most coding apps for kids are free or very low cost and will help them in school and beyond. Learning computer programming teaches you logic, persistence and attention to detail, which are skills that will help in any field.
● Learn to draw. YouTube has an amazing amount of videos that teach you how to draw. They help kids of all ages develop the skills to draw almost any sort of character they like. If you could use some help in that area, join in! When you’re finished, create your own living room art show to showcase your new skills.
● Move your body. YouTube also has free exercise videos for kids that feel more like fun dance time. Join your kids for a good workout and you and your youngsters will get fit and create great memories and laughter. Plus, they’ll be exhausted afterward, and you’ll all sleep better.
● Learn an instrument. You can learn to play music online as long as you have the instrument on hand. If you don’t, you can rent one from a music shop and have your child learn by watching online videos. You’ll have a family band before you know it.
Screen time doesn’t have to be a bad thing if it’s done properly. The correct screens will help your children learn and expand their minds while playing games with you and each other. Many educational games are as fun as they are smart. You’ll feel like a super-parent when your kids learn important skills.
By Jennie Wise, SpecialHomeEducator.com
In New York State, you may withdraw your child from school for homeschooling at any point during the school year. Parents do not need a college degree or high school diploma to do this. However, you should be capable of understanding and abiding by state regulations regarding the curriculum and paperwork that must be submitted in a timely manner. Below are the steps for withdrawing your child from school.
In NYS, you must submit a “Notice of Intention.” This is simply written notification to the school district you reside in that you intend to withdraw your child and provide homeschooling. I would recommend that you submit this personally at the school, through certified mail, or via e-mail to the Superintendent of Schools or other person designated (varies by school district). You want to make sure you have proof that you submitted this letter of intent. Per state regulations, if you withdraw your child from school during the school year, the letter of intention must be submitted within 14 days of pulling your child from school. If during the summer break, you should attempt to submit your intent before July 1st, which is the official start of the school year in NYS (June 30th being the last day of the school year). I would strongly recommend that you submit this letter before taking your child out of school in order to avoid any miscommunications that could result in educational neglect charges by the school district.
Upon receipt of your letter of intent, the school district has 10 days to provide you with a copy of the NYS regulations regarding homeschooling (Regulations of the Commissioner of Education section 100.10). In addition, they must send you a form to submit your IHIP (Individualized Home Instruction Plan) or written directions on what needs to be in the IHIP.
You then have 4 weeks from receipt of the above information to provide the school district with your IHIP. Again, make sure you have proof of submission by either submitting in person, certified mail or by e-mail.
The school district, upon receipt of your IHIP, has 10 days to notify you of acceptance of the IHIP.
What do you do if your IHIP is not approved?
If your IHIP is not accepted, the school district must notify you of the deficiencies that must be corrected. You then have 15 days to revise the IHIP and re-submit for approval.
The school district has 15 days to advise you of their decision. If the IHIP is again not accepted, they must notify you of the next Board of Education meeting to attend (this should be within 10 days of their decision). You must attend this meeting to address the board or you will be expected to enroll your child back in school. If you attend the board meeting to prove compliance, the board must render a decision. If they decide the IHIP is not in compliance, you have the option of re-enrolling your child back in school or you can appeal to the Commissioner of Education within 30 days of the determination of the board. The Commissioner’s final determination will stand and you will be required to either re-enroll your child in school or provide information on other arrangements that you will be making for your child.
If you need guidance on choosing a curriculum or creating your IHIP, you may contact a homeschool consultant. A consultant can assist you with curriculum choices, creating the IHIP, quarterly reports, dealing with the school district and much more.
Are you thinking about homeschooling your child? If you are in any way still on the fence, consider the many advantages. Here are just some of the benefits to homeschooling your child!
1. Customized Learning
The “one-size-fits-all” approach to general education simply does not work for most children. When you homeschool your child, if a certain curriculum does not work, you can try another one! In addition, games, videos and stories can also be added to help your child get the most out of their education.
2. Getting to Spend More Time With Your Child
Forget about sending your child to school for several hours a day! Homeschooling means that you can spend quality time with them, educating them, eating with them and playing together. It’s the ideal scenario!
3. Many Opportunities for Character Building
No one knows your child better than you do, and homeschooling gives you the chance to teach your child how to work as a team, be responsible, work hard, act with kindness and humility, be obedient, resolve conflicts and work on other areas in which your child may be struggling. Your child will likely not benefit from this kind of attention and unique learning experience at a school.
4. Getting to Know Your Child on a Deeper Level
As your child’s primary educator, homeschooling provides you with a front row seat into your child’s developing and emerging character. Homeschooling is also great in that you can tell immediately if your child is struggling with a particular subject or not, has a talent for anything or a specific weakness or strength in any specific area.
5. Being Able to Learn on Sick Days
Obviously, if your child is very sick they will not be able to learn. However, if they have a common cold and still feel up to it, they can still be homeschooled as you see fit.
6. Learning With Your Child
Since the homeschooling curriculum is usually different to that of a normal public school, you will probably learn new things, too! For example, certain aspects of world history and some classic novels in English literature.
These strategies are useful whether your students are in a typical classroom setting or in their home environment.
Helping Students with Attention Deficit Disorder Succeed at School
Organizing your homeschooling space is important. Your children need to know where to easily access their supplies, books and other resources they will be using throughout the day. The following link has some wonderful storage ideas.
Parents know their kids better than anyone. This alone is a strong argument for homeschooling but an even better one is, simply put, not all education curriculu are created equal. What works for one child as an effective education curriculum may not work for another.
Homeschooling is viable because many parents can give their child a better education than the local public school can. Through a homeschool program, parents can create a custom curriculum that is a perfect fit for their own children, something that focuses on their strengths but at the same time helps develop their weaknesses. Homeschooling can serve as a better education that is attuned specifically to a child's own needs, learning style, personality, and interests.
Another reason parents might want more control over their child's education is for the purpose of including religious instruction. Religion as a class is not offered in public schools and many parents are dissatisfied with this. Homeschooling can offer parents this option to include religious instruction. Christian homeschooling is popular branch of homeschooling that more and more parents are undertaking.
With homeschooling, the family bond can be greatly strengthened as well. Homeschooling families spend lots of time learning and playing together and this naturally creates close ties between siblings and between children and parents.
Although anxiety is a normal feeling that everyone experiences at one time or another, children afflicted by these feelings, ranging from a mild sense of uneasiness to full-blown panic, can suffer in the classroom, affecting their ability to learn. Classroom learning is almost impossible for some children whose anxiety is quite severe. This is where homeschooling can help.
Homeschooling is a viable option for children who suffer from anxiety. Removing them from the classroom and keeping them in their home environment can greatly increase their chance of being taught and help retain any lessons they receive.
Studies have show that homeschooling children with anxiety problems is a safer and more effective route than simply putting them on various medications (which can have side effects). A homeschool consultant can guide a family through any problems they might face when setting up a homeschool program.
There are several various types of anxiety disorders, with different symptoms. But they all share one common trait: prolonged, intense anxiety that is out of proportion to the present situation and affects a child's daily life and happiness. Children with anxiety problems may not even know what's causing the emotions, worries, and sensations they have.
Disorders that children can get include:
Homeschooling is a viable option to help kids with anxiety problems. A child can get the education he or she deserves without any social stresses holding him or her back.